On June 2nd the International Day of Female Sex Workers is commemorated around the world. On that day, but in 1975, 150 female sex workers were sheltered in the church of St. Nizier in Lyon, France, to demand an end to police violence.
The people protected and supported the claim of the female sex workers, and the strike spread to other cities in that country.
This is the first historical record of a female sex workers’ strike of such magnitude. For the first time, women were positioned as workers, sex workers women, who managed to make visible their problems, and be seen as subjects of rights. They resisted for a week and the 10th of June they were violently repressed. Justice never investigated the repression they suffered that day or the repression they were denouncing at.
Today we face the same problems in every country of Latin America and the Caribbean, as elsewhere in the world. Pimping, police harassment, killings, degrading conditions of life and work are part of the constant problems we face every day. 40 years later we suffered the violence of those that, in a paternalistic way, want to assign us an identity of victims.
But the world has changed since these brave women dared to break the silence, because we have changed ourselves and we are changing the reality. Today there are national and regional networks of female sex workers involved in the design, evaluation and implementation of public policies in health and related issues. And while some influential people and governments want to drag us and confuse us with the issue of human trafficking, we are promoting progressive law projects to regulate autonomous sex work.
Following the example of the sex workers from Lyon, RedTraSex and its national organizations grow bigger and stronger in the fight for respect for our rights, and in the vindication of a life free of violence, decent working conditions, with comprehensive care of our health, without stigma or discrimination.
On this day of commemoration, celebration and reflection we urge governments and legislators in the region to stop being accomplices of violence, corruption and abuse of human rights. We will be demanding this at national and international spaces, such as the Organization of American States (OAS).
2012 will be a key year for our movement, in our fifteenth anniversary as a network and at the beginning of the implementation of the Global Fund Regional Project, we affirm loud and clear that we are here to stay.
Nothing for us without us.